Here I will show you how I used Recycled lawn/garden solar lights to make a 12 volt power supply/charger.

I think I have about $8.00 in it so far!

Step 1: What the end result looks like

Okay lets get started.

I when on to a recycle website and asked for used garden solar lights, working or not.
After getting a response I went and picked up about 15 of these from a very nice person. Some lights worked about 1/2 did not. Mostly this was poor care.

These solar lights were of a higher price/quality type. You will notice  each cell is upside down and has a switch to allow the LED to turn on or not. I'm pretty sure this is for storage.

I put the lights in the off position and left them off.  For this project you will not need the lights and the solar cells will continue to charge the batteries.

I found the case I am using for this project at Harbor Freight for about $5-6  on sale.
The wasted power with a DC to DC converter shows up as heat with the LM-317 and is why you need a heat sink on the chip case. The AH55 DC to DC converter comes with a good heat sink. I have 6 of them attached to my battery with outlets, switches and panel mount fuses so I can just plug in and turn on any device that normally uses a wall wart. All are installed in the center of the pictured panel. I don't use the AH55's 12 volt setting and so don't need another AH55 for that. The panel is integrated with 2 other panels connected to a solar array, a Trojan 200Ah battery and an inverter. I run a dialysis machine 8 hours a night for my friend with this set up. You did a very good job with your project. I love DC to DC Converters.
Nice project and presentation you have made here. One trick that I learned eons ago in the Navy is to keep a bar type pencil eraser on the work bench to clean the leads of components just prior to soldering, it doesn't take much more time to clean the leads and makes the soldering job much easier. <br>Keep up the good work. <br>Dan
You are correct Dan, <br> <br>I use an eraser on my computer RAM and also wireless cards. I did this especially if things got funky before throwing the item out., <br> <br>This idea was especially true in a humid climate like Michigan where I used to live. I would have a laptop wireless card go funky.. I would eraser LIGHTLY both sides of the connections and dust them off good. Everything worked great afterwards. <br> <br>Peace, Bryan
nice man
It's like you're yelling at us! lol With the little sprints of caps lock lol
wouldn't be cheaper if you buy 12v lead-acid battery and 12v solar panel?
For my application I think this will work well. It is hard to beat basically FREE. <br>Besides buying a panel would defeat the geeky/coolness factor :) <br> <br>Peace, Bryan
I made something like this using 9 solar garden lights. I connected them in series (made a solar panel out of those) and charged a 12V/1.3AH SLA battery. It charged very slow. I made a flowerpot light for my wife and I was hoping to keep six high-brightness (50ma) LEDs on all night. It did but by the third day it started getting too low of a charge. I discarded the project. The numbers weren't on the good side. <br> <br>You should remove the plastic cover when charging. It takes a lot of useful sunlight. Tutdude98 is right. A solar panel and a proper battery would be better, but not cheaper.
Oh, and you should measure the amount of current flowing into the batteries, not the open voltage. That lid might not make a big change on the open voltage but I bet it does on the charging current. Nice project, nevertheless.
Thanks for this very descriptive section on soldering. Can't wait for the instructable!

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Bio: IF YOU ARE IN THE GREATER DENVER AREA AND WANT A NERD PROJECT FRIEND/BUDDY HIT ME UP. I enjoy building projects, coming up with ... More »
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